Preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United

This is one of the great rivalries of the Hyundai A-League, with these two having faced off in two grand finals over the years, both of which have gone in Melbourne's favour.

Date: Friday January 13 Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT, 7.30pm ACDT Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Head-to-head Played 26: Wins: Victory 14, Adelaide 8, Draws: 4

Previous encounter Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 1, December 2011

History: This is one of the great rivalries of the Hyundai A-League, with these two having faced off in two grand finals over the years, both of which have gone in Melbourne's favour. Victory held a vice-like hold over their rivals prior to last year with an unprecedented 10 straight wins in their battles. Adelaide hit back by winning the two in a row, including a 1-0 win earlier this season before they drew their most recent match 1-1 in December.

Form: Past five matches: Melbourne: WLLLW Adelaide: DWWDL

Summary of form: Victory have endured a rollercoaster over the festive season, with their third straight loss, 2-0 to Central Coast, resulting in the end of the tenure of coach Mehmet Durakovic. Kevin Muscat filled in for the 2-1 win over Newcastle, which moved Victory back into the top six. New coach Jim Magilton took charge this week.

Adelaide have not lost a game since John Kosmina took charge just before Christmas, winning two games and drawing two others. That spurt of form has put them back in the running for the top six, and they currently sit eighth on the table but on the same points as Victory. After successive wins over Wellington and Melbourne Heart, they drew with Brisbane 1-1 last week.

Match Commitee: Victory captain Adrian Leijer remains a major doubt for this match have missed the past three matches with a groin injury, and is unlikely to be fit for this one. Billy Celeski won't play, while Matthew Kemp, absent since November, could be set for a recall.

Adelaide have lost Jon McKain for at least a month with a knee injury, in a major blow for the Reds. He joins Cassio (ankle), Evgeniy Levchenko (groin) and Milan Susak (knee) on the sidelines. Spase Dilevski could be considered.

Danger men: Danny Allsopp - Allsopp has had to play a bit part role in Victory's attacking plans this season, with the likes of Thompson, Hernandez and Kewell all grabbing the headlines. But given a different role last week under Kevin Muscat, the veteran put in his best performance of the season, playing a part in the first goal and putting forward his case for a permanent return to the starting line-up.

Sergio van Dijk - The 2010-11 Golden Boot had endured a relatively lean spell in the first half of the season, but three goals in two games, admittedly two of them from penalties, would have given him a much-needed confidence boost.

At the end of the day… New Victory coach Jim Magilton summed it up best during the week when he said he hopes he has the same effect on Melbourne Victory as John Kosmina's appointment has had on Adelaide United.

Both of these teams should be energised by the new personnel in charge and that makes this match very hard to predict. Clearly history means very little, despite the long period where Victory dominated Adelaide, as both sides look very different to those from that era.

Under Kosmina, the Reds have sharpened up, not just physically, but mentally. Gone are the lapses which saw them struggle in the first half of the season and they appear more accountable across the park.

The new coach has not sought to re-invent the wheel, instead encouraging the best qualities of the group he has got and asking for a more team-orientated performance. Considering his team are unbeaten in four games, you would have to say that is working.

Magilton faces a similar challenge at Melbourne, but he arguably has a better base product to work with, especially in attack. Clearly, the ingredients are there at the club, he just needs to get them mixed in just right to help them rise to the lofty pre-season expectations which ultimately cost his predecessor his job.

The key is to sort out the midfield, and the likelihood is that both Hernandez and Kewell will spend more time distributing rather than receiving. Kewell remains the most important player. If Magilton can get him more involved than many of the other issues will be resolved and Victory can start winning again.

Defence is also a worry, having failed to keep a clean sheet in nine matches, but if the midfield can get hold of the ball more than there will be fewer opportunities for the opposition to score.

In terms of what that means for this match, it is hard to tell, but if the level of enthusiasm at Victory training is anything to go by, we can expect improvement and maybe that's enough for them to get the three points.


Melbourne Victory squad: 2. Matthew Foschini, 3. Fabio, 4. Petar Franjic, 6. Leigh Broxham, 7. Matthew Kemp, 8. Grant Brebner, 9. Jean Carlos Solorzano, 10. Archie Thompson, 11. Marco Rojas, 12. Rodrigo Vargas, 13. Diogo Ferreira, 16.Carlos Hernandez, 17, Jimmy Jeggo, 18. Danny Allsopp, 19. Isaka Cernak , 20. Lawrence Thomas (GK), 21. Ante Covic (GK), 22. Harry Kewell, 23. Adrian Leijer (c) *four to be omitted*

In: Matthew Kemp, 9. Jean Carlos Solorzano, 17. Jimmy Jeggo (all promoted), 23. Adrian Leijer (returns from injury) Out: 14. Billy Celeski (groin), 15. Tom Pondeljak (back) Unavailable: 1.Tando Velaphi (stress fracture), 14. Billy Celeski (groin), 15. Tom Pondeljak (back)

Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene Galekovic (gk) (c), 2.Osama Malik, 3.Nigel Boogaard, 5.Daniel Mullen, 7.Zenon Caravella, 9.Sergio van Dijk, 10.Dario Vidosic, 11.Bruce Djite, 12.Antony Golec, 14.Cameron Watson, 15.Jacob Melling, 17.Iain Ramsay, 18.Fabian Barbiero, 20.Mark Birighitti (gk), 21.Francisco Usucar

In: Nil Out: Nil Unavailable: Spase Dilevski (groin - 1-2 weeks), Milan Susak (hamstring - 2-3 weeks), Cassio (ankle - 2-3 weeks), Jon McKain (knee - 6 weeks), Evgeniy Levchenko (groin - 5 weeks)